Anyone will tell you how much I love my seafood and when I was invited to Rockfish, Exmouth I couldn’t say “no”! A short and easy train ride from my hometown of Exeter, Exmouth nestles the coastline where the River Exe meets the sea. A popular destination for tourists in the summer because of the long, sandy beaches and during the winter months it relies on its buzzing pubs and restaurants as well as independent shopping.
Our reservation was for 7.30pm on a rather cold Tuesday evening and wondered if we might be the only people in the restaurant. To my surprise, we arrived to quite a buzz. A mix of diners; older couples taking winter vacations I assumed and younger couples on date night.
Greeted with a smile, we were given a choice of tables. Me being me plumped for the table right next to the beautiful wood burner. It was so cold outside that this was a welcome sight.
Menus offered and drinks orders taken, we relaxed into the chilled out vibe of the place. Soft lighting and festive tunes in the background with the glow from the fire lighting up our faces and warming our cold bones. Steve ordered an IPA personally selected by founder Mitch Tonks himself and I opted for the French off dry rosé.
Our waitress Sarah-Jane was a delight. Attentive and informative giving us all the special options for the freshly caught fish of the day alongside how they were cooked and what they were served with.
On careful consideration, I chose the sardines served with garlic butter for my starter and for my main course the fritto misto (fried mixed fish) plus a mixed salad on the side. Steve ordered crisp fried devilled sprats with aioli to start plus one of the special locally caught lemon soles for his main course. Also taking Sarah-Jane up on the bottomless chips offer. As if that wasn’t enough we ordered some picked onion rings as they sounded so intriguing.
Our starters arrived in good time and we tucked in. The portion sizes were ginormous with my starter having five smallish sardines and Steve a mountain of sprats. Both dishes cooked beautifully and so obviously caught that day. The flavours danced off the plate with every mouthful.
The main courses arrived and were equally large. You will definitely not go hungry here! My fritto misto was delicious with crispy batter and succulent fish and shellfish inside. Prawns, calamari, cod and scampi wrapped up in their crisp batter blankets with a chilli and tartare sauce for dipping on the side. My only criticism here was the salad. It was as if it had come from the freezer. It was so cold and not a pleasure to eat, unfortunately. I have this thing about chilled tomatoes you see. They lose all taste. Tomatoes should always be served at room temperature in my opinion. I fed this back to Sarah-Jane who couldn’t have been more apologetic and said she would mention this to the chefs on duty.
Steve’s lemon sole was served simply grilled with lemon. A garlic butter was also an option but Steve felt he wanted the fish to speak for itself. Cooked beautifully, the delicate flesh fell from the bone. The bottomless chips were hot, crispy and a great addition to such a simply prepared dish.
Our pickled onion rings were a triumph. The batter was light and crispy. Everything an onion ring should be with the delicate tang of vinegar subtly in the background. I am glad we ordered them to try but we certainly didn’t need them.
I opted against dessert as I was fit to burst but Steve fancied something sweet to round off the evening. One of their amaretto ice cream shots was calling his name. In my head, I visualised a shot glass style affair but in true Rockfish style out came a large glass filled with whipped Yarde Farm vanilla ice cream, ammertto liqueur and ameretti biscuits. A delightful end to our meal. Of course, I tried a little for research purposes and will definitely be recreating this at home over the festive holidays.
We both really enjoyed our evening at Rockfish, Exmouth and would recommend the service and food wholeheartedly. Maybe steer clear of the salad if like me you like a room temperature tomato but everything else from the service, atmosphere and food was top class.
You can find Rockfish, Exmouth at Pier Head, Exmouth, EX8 1DU. To make a booking call 01395 272100.
Disclaimer: I was asked by Rockfish to review their Exmouth restaurant. I was not paid for this post and all views are my own as always.